The Worst Thought a Language Learner Could Have!

April 4, 2016

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

What is the first thought in your mind about language learning?

When learning a new language many negative thoughts can come over you.

One thought comes to mind, which is probably the most destructive one a language learner can have. If you think it and say it enough, it can lead you to the end of learning the target language of interest.

“This language is so complicated!”

If you have started to learn or have been learning a new language, you might have experienced the thought. It usually acts like a domino effect by bringing other thoughts, like:

  • I’ll never learn this language.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • Learning a language is to hard.

Before you know it, you’re thinking about giving up on this language learning thing altogether.


Have you ever asked yourself – Are my expectations set to high?

See, we have this need to understand everything right now. And if that doesn’t happen, we feel like a failure. Of course, this is the beginning of the end. More thoughts come…..

Embrace the “Not Knowing” – “Not Understanding”

I want you to know this:

It’s OK to not know or understand! No need to push yourself or rush yourself into more than you can handle.

I would like to share an experience that I had several years ago, teaching English to a university class. One student, which I thought had a good understanding of the language but, he was thinking the opposite direction though. He had this strong desire to understand English vocabulary right now. During holiday, he went home and spent his entire holiday reading the dictionary to improve his English vocabulary.

When classes reconvened, he came back telling me that he had read the dictionary and mentioned that he felt very good about his ability with vocabulary. So, I asked him what the definition of “apple” was. He couldn’t…..

It’s impossible to use everything of a language at the first try.

My suggestion, delay your understanding. It’s important when learning a new language, just take it step by step or word by word.

Don’t let yourself get into this position.

Learning a new language (e.g. English) takes a process of practice and failures together to become fluent.

Each day and experience you have, is a learning adventure. You will see through practice you will learn something new or see the same word or phrase used a different way. By following the process of language learning you will gain understanding.

If you trust that you will understand it better later along the way in this adventure, even the worst thought a language learner can have becomes harmless.


The problem is not WHAT we think, the problem is taking those thoughts seriously. When those difficult times come, our minds automatically turn to the easiest direction. “I quit”.


“If you believe you can, then you can but, if you believe you cannot, then you cannot” – Douglas Shaw

If you follow this and remember where those negative thoughts come from and why, you will no longer have to hold onto them. And they will no longer have the power to turn you towards things you will regret, later on.

If  you found this post helpful or would like to add your comment, please comment below. Thank you.


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